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$4.47 Million for George O'Brien Urology Research Center

The George M. O'Brien Urology Research Center in the Division of Urology, School of Medicine, has been competitively renewed with increased funding by NIH for the next five years. The Division of Urology received this center grant from NIDDK under the directorship of Dr. Samuel K. Chacko, professor of pathology at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Director of the Urology Research Center. This research program, Remodeling of Urinary Bladder Smooth Muscle in Outlet Obstruction, is one of only five O'Brien Urology Research Centers.

The other four centers are in the Urology Divisions at Harvard University, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, and University of Virginia.

According to Dr. Chacko, the O'Brien award "will help provide an environment for investigators to apply state-of-the-art tools in cell and molecular biology to research related to the pathogenesis of urologic diseases." The research program coordinates investigation of the cell/molecular basis of contractile dysfunctions which occur in bladder smooth muscle cells following bladder obstruction in small mammals. The changes seen in these animal models are similar to those seen in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)--a condition that affects more than half of men in their sixties and as many as 90 percent in their seventies and eighties. Dr. Alan J. Wein, chair of the Division of Urology said that this condition, which can lead to bladder dysfunction and incontinence, is a leading cause for institutionalization of the elderly and costs an estimated $10 billion a year.

The center is composed of faculty in the School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, and School of Dental Medicine, as well as investigators in Pediatric Urology at CHOP.

Major studies at the Penn O'Brien Urology Research Center are 1) Extracellular matrix changes in response to obstruction (Dr. Edward Macarak of the School of Dental Medicine), 2) Effect of extracellular matrix and stretch on the expression of smooth muscle phenotype during detrusor smooth muscle remodeling (Dr. Michael DiSanto of the School of Medicine), and 3) Cellular and molecular basis of detrusor contractility and bladder dysfunction in obstruction-induced detrusor remodeling (Dr. Chacko of the School of Veterinary Medicine & School of Medicine). Dr. Stephen Zderic of Pediatric Urology will direct a core facility in the Abramson Research Laboratory at CHOP.

The O'Brien Urology Research Center will also give two (2 year) grants annually ($60,000 each per year) for Pilot & Feasibility studies related to cell/molecular basis of urologic diseases. These grants will provide seed money for studies on smooth muscle, epithelium or connective tissue in the lower urinary and male genital systems.

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to new and established investigators in the basic science and clinical departments who are interested in focusing their research on basic science--oriented research in urology.

The two initial pilot projects to be supported are 1) Diminution of detrusor hypertrophy in outlet obstruction by inhibition of calcineurin pathway (Stephen Zderic of CHOP), and

2) Phospholipase activation during bladder outlet obstruction (Edward LaBelle of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Drexel).

Applications will be solicited for the 9/05 start date in the near future. For information please contact Dr. Samuel K. Chacko (



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 8, October14, 2003